More than 200,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended in 2021 by 25 large retailers who recovered over $240 million from these thieves, according to the 34th Annual Retail Theft Survey. 

“When it comes to shoplifting, the survey showed many retailers moved away from apprehensions in 2021 and focused more on recoveries. Our survey revealed shoplifting apprehensions were down 16.2% in 2021, while overall shoplifting recoveries (from apprehended and non-apprehended thieves) were up a staggering 30.8%,” said Mark R. Doyle, president of Jack L. Hayes International, producer of the annual survey. 

Doyle added, “Survey respondents noted the pandemic environment, staff safety, lower police response and higher risks as some of the reasons for less shoplifter apprehensions.” 

There was an increase in 2021 in both dishonest employee apprehensions and recovery dollars, 6% and 29.8% respectively. Survey respondents noted additional focus, enhanced investigation methods/tools and less associate supervision as some of the reasons for the increase in apprehensions and recovery dollars of dishonest employees. 

Highlights from the annual theft survey include: 

  • Apprehensions: Participants apprehended 204,404 shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2021, down 12.8% from 2020.
  • Recovery Dollars: Participants recovered over $240 million from apprehended shoplifters and dishonest employees in 2021, up 9.9%.
  • Shoplifters: 166,745 shoplifters were apprehended in 2021, down 16.2%; and over $196 million was recovered from these shoplifters, up 6.1%.
  • Dishonest Employees: 37,659 employees were apprehended in 2021, up 6.0%; and over $44 million was recovered from these employees in 2021, up 29.9%.
  • Survey participants: 25 large retail companies with 22,751 stores and over $650 billion in retail sales in 2021. 

The latest survey also included these case averages for 2021 as compared to the prior year: 

  • Total Thefts: $1,180.39, up 26%
  • Shoplifters:    $1,178.57, up 26.6%
  • Employees:   $1,188.46, up 22.6%

A downloadable/printable PDF version of the full survey is available here.